Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Spender vs. Saver = Know your couple goals

My role as a Financial Planner can be very varied, and it depends on which client you speak to as to how I am described.  I have one client who describes me as her financial conscious, which seems flattering until she describes me as this annoying little voice in the back of her head disputing the need for a prospective purchase.  I have other clients who want me to track their financial position, some who give me a specific goal to help them meet, and those who have retired and just really want a cup of tea and a chat.  I can't think of a client that I don't like (I usually send those ones to Naomi), but some couples need a little more of a helping hand than others.  To these couples, I range from a referee to a financial crisis manager.

Basically, these clients are not on the same page as their spouse financially, and it can end up a deal breaker.  For example, one may be a spender and the other a saver.  The spender is interested in funding their lifestyle, and the saver is worried about their future.  There are many reasons this happens, for example my ex-husband's Dad died very young, and so he tends to live in the moment with his spending habits.  Another reason may be that the saver doesn't want to end up in the same financial position as their parents, or that there was a lack of financial education while the spender was growing up.  The "She'll be right" attitude gone wrong. 

Having this conversation is hardly romantic, but you will save yourself a lot of pain if you have it before you cohabitate.  The goal is to know where each of you stand as an individual, before joint finances become an issue.  From these individual goals you can form an idea of what your couple goals are, and whether they are acceptable to each individual.  The key is to effectively communicate why the individual goals are important, so that they can be assessed at a couple level and you both have the opportunity to articulate what it brings to the relationship. 
Not having this conversation and understanding of your partner can bring conflict when the relationship encounters stressors.  A stressor may be having children, loss of employment or even having to pass over an opportunity due to a lack of, or hoarding of, resources.  If both individual spouses have their own agenda, it is difficult to get full commitment to the goals of the couple.
Some moderation on your individual view of finances may be needed, and some couples never get there, and continue to have separate financial lives.  Other couples work hard to come to a middle ground over time.  Neither option is right or wrong; use what works for you as a couple. That way, you can get back to nagging each other about the important things in life...like who left the toilet seat up again.

By Erin Wright B.Int Bus Dip. FS(FP), Accredited Aged Care Specialist
Find Erin at Achieveit Financial Planning or call for an appointment on 07 4638 5011

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Personal reflections from the other side of Aged Care

My grandfather, who is 98 this year, has recently entered an Aged Care facility.  I could bore you with the details of the RAD, the fact that he has a qualifying pension (WWII veteran), or how the family has decided to rent out the family home.  All of these facts are relevant, and very important when my Father, who is sole Enduring Power of Attorney, approached me for help (convenient having an Aged Care Specialist in the family, hey Dad), but none of them really tell the real story.

The real story is this: my Grandmother died three years ago, and, despite the efforts of my Mother and two Aunts, my Grandfather spent the majority of his time by himself.  My Grandfather has always been the strong patriarch of the family, and watching him suffer cognitive decline of his once sharp wits, has been hard on the children.  As in many family situations, they could not reconcile that this, increasingly, frail old man was their father, and so resisted my Father's urging to look into care.  Without united family support, my Father only had two options, to bide his time or forcibly step in, which would have been more traumatic for my Grandfather.  And so, for better or worse, he waited until the inevitable hospital visit where the good Doctor refused to discharge him.

Now, for the happy ending.  After all the tears, what-iffing and hesitation, my Grandfather is happily settled in.  He spends his time playing the piano in the common area lounge, eats well (the food is fantastic), and is socialising with his peers.  He no longer needs to worry about when to take his medication, pay a bill or decide to mow his lawn.  My Grandfather can now relax and live out his days in dignity, in a community where he does not feel like a burden.

My family are not horrible or mean people, but the question that comes to my mind is how many other families are condemning their parents to a half-life where they spend their time alone, day in and out?  Where they are constantly waiting for a visit, a phone call, or for someone to take them grocery shopping?  I can only hope that when I am in this same situation, my Daughter stands up and makes the decision to improve my quality of life, no matter how querulous I may be.  After all, isn't that what I do for her now?

By Erin Wright B.Int Bus Dip. FS(FP), Accredited Aged Care Specialist
Find Erin at Achieveit Financial Planning or call for an appointment on 07 4638 5011